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Final Fantasy VIII PC Interview

This interview originally took place in October of 1999. YM is Yoshi Maruyama, Vice Chairman of Square EA. JF is Jay Fong, Senior Software Engineer of Squaresoft.

IGNPC: Both Final Fantasy VII and VIII were delayed for the PC version -- do you ever feel that for future versions, it might be a simultaneous release?

Yoshi Maruyama: Square usually develops games for a particular video game console first and then starts porting to PC. This is a primary reason for a delay in launching PC games. Lags will become shorter but simultaneous release will not be easy. I would say simultaneous release of console and PC titles is unlikely in the near future.

IGNPC: Could you briefly go into the process of creating the PC version of FFVIII?

Jay Fong : The PC version is a direct port of the PSX version. We receive all the original source code and art resources from the PSX team and then our work begins.

Basically our work consists mainly of porting code that was specifically written with the PSX hardware in mind to a PC running Windows, which is totally different in architecture and capability. A lot of the difficulties that we face mainly stem from the fact that the PSX team took full advantage of their hardware platform, which often means that their code does not translate very well into the world of PCs running Windows.

However because of the experience we gained while working on the Final Fantasy VII port, work on the PC version of Final Fantasy VIII has gone very smoothly.

IGNPC: With the PlayStation 2 being the focus of the Square team for future FF games, how will that affect the PC? Will versions be ported down to the PC platform, or will this mean that we might not even see FFIX or X on the PC at all?

YM: It is to early to tell how we do PC version from PSX2 version. We need to analyze performance of the PSX2 and its tools and library for evaluating the feasibility of porting from PSX2 to PC.

IGNPC: Are you designing new textures for the PC version, or are the PlayStation textures high resolution, like Soul Reaver?

JF: All of the artwork is the same as the PSX version. However, the higher resolution available on the PC is able to show details that were not apparent on a TV screen, as was demonstrated at E3.

IGNPC: What about the FMV movies? FFVII used the same movies from the PlayStation version, which ended up having a muddier look on the PC. Are you optimizing the FMV movies for the PC version?

JF: For FFVIII, we are currently experimenting with high resolution movies for the PC version. We are using a new movie compression technology than FFVII and the quality looks much better, even for the low resolution ('PSX movie') version of the movies.

IGNPC: The character designs have become much more realistic -- how do you feel that will help bring in a larger audience for the game, especially those that are wary of anime' type RPG's?

YM: I believe that gamers' taste is fairly diverse. Some gamers prefer realistic characters and some do prefer comical character design. Square game designers will design both realistic and comical characters for our RPGs in the future.

IGNPC: Do you think that PC audiences are more open to console-type games nowadays, because of the larger market? How do you think this will translate to sales of FFVIII?

YM: Yes. I believe that gamers are open to both PC and console games as long as they offer high quality gaming experience. In certain game genres, such as strategy simulations, PCs still have an advantage because they are designed to be played in a networked environment.

IGNPC: Who made the original pitch to have a PC version of FFVII? Was the same process needed for translating FFVIII, or was it a no-brainer?

YM: Squaresoft game programmers did all the necessary work. They learned a lot from FF7 project though they have to do even more to port FF8 to the PC because FF8 added more new features on FF7.

IGNPC: With the success of the FFVII and the upcoming sales of FFVIII, has Square had any interest in translating any other titles over to the PC, such as Parasite Eve or Saga Frontier II?

YM: It costs significant amount money to port PSX titles to PC. We need to evaluate potential sales of PC version before we start porting titles.

IGNPC: Does Square have any plans of creating a PC-only title?

YM: We have been studying developing online games for some time though we have not done any titles.

Thanks to IGN for the transcript.

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